Mariah Carey's New York 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' Spectacular: Two Billboard Editors in the #Lambily Discuss

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey performs during the opening show of Mariah Carey: All I Want For Christmas Is You at Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Mariah Carey may already own the holiday season with the omnipresent "All I Want For Christmas Is You," but as her (many) Billboard chart records show, Mimi's never been one for quitting while she's ahead. That's why a 2014 run of holiday-themed shows at New York's Beacon Theater named after the runaway hit is quickly turning from a one-off, intended to celebrate 20 years of its parent album Merry Christmas, to a Big Apple institution -- one that two of Billboard's biggest Lambs, Adelle Platon and Natalie Weiner, had to witness in person.

Below, the two editors discuss the show (they caught the Dec. 13 performance), from Mariah's best Christmas ballads to her most gratifying diva moments.

Natalie Weiner: So, what were you expecting going into the show?

Adelle Platon: Basically, a festive Mariah wonderland with holiday slow jams and Christmas decor.

NW: Well, luckily I feel like that's exactly what we got — personally, I wasn't sure what the degree of corniness was going to be. Was mildly concerned that it would be over the top for even true fans like ourselves.

AP: It actually wasn't that corny at all. She threw in a lot of traditional holiday elements, like ballerinas in Nutcracker-esque leotards, jubilant and extremely talented kids, a gospel choir, a troupe of suited (and occasionally shirtless) male dancers... well, maybe not as traditional on that last part. [Laughs.] I wasn't worried because Mariah always does it up with everything she does.

NW: You are a truer fan than I -- I was nervous. But in the end, my worries were unfounded. From top to bottom, it was a blast.

AP: She even threw gifts into the crowd, so it truly was all about #festivating.

NW: One thing that also surprised me right off the bat was the crowd. It was really diverse: young people, old people, men, women, all ethnicities... and everyone was so excited! Literally on their feet from the opening number right through the end.

AP: Yes! I didn't expect for us to be standing the whole time.

NW: I would have worn different shoes, to be perfectly honest.

AP: But heels helped us see over the people in front, so I think it was worth it.

NW: True -- we communed that much more easily with MC.

AP: I didn't expect her to share the spotlight with the kids (who were absolutely insane dancers) and Trey Lorenz (who sang a rousing gospel tune backed by the Sounds of Victory Choir), but she does need to entertain the crowd during her wardrobe changes. [Laughs.]

NW: For sure -- there were four (!) after all. The second song, "Christmas Time Is Here," was intriguing -- she really did try to reenact the Charlie Brown Christmas scene where all the Peanuts characters dance to "Linus and Lucy," but... sexier. It was also a very "Mom" moment, with Mariah asking all the kids onstage what Christmas meant to them. Plus, she proved her meme fluency -- one of the kids referenced the #UNameItChallenge in his answer...

 

My name is #roeroe

A video posted by Mariah Carey (@mariahcarey) on

 

AP: She was just showing she was down with the youth -- I'm sure it was intended to dazzle 'Roc, 'Roe and their play dates. That animated segment during "When Christmas Comes" was also a little odd. It was the "Heartbreaker" cartoon version of Mariah. but in a skimpy Santa suit... in which she jets from the snow to the beach with some animated buff dude. They also used that on the merch :/

NW: I felt like the moment she really locked in with people vocally, though, was on "Joy to the World" -- she started with just the piano (shout out to Big Jim Wright, who matched Mariah in all white), then took it big.

AP: Yes! They were a great pair.

NW: She just sounds so good on those classic Christmas songs... like, they're really pretty hard to sing, especially in an interesting way, but she makes them so evocative. And minimizes the cheeseball factor.

AP: Her voice adds a sultriness to seasonal favorites, also. Her having her boobs out may not be totally intended for the kids, but she does keep that aspect of her brand intact, along with all the strapping male dancers carrying her around onstage.

NW: Yes, Mariah definitely loves a little seduction, as evidenced in all the thrusting that happened on stage during her Christmas pageant.

AP: Also: she still holds her ear and finger wags every time she goes for the whistle register.

NW: I KNOW -- so perfect.

AP: #onbrand

NW: We talked a little after about how she sort of makes an effort to seem relatable in a way that stars of her caliber usually don't. Like when she was talking about how she just has "dry eyes," and scolding the media at large for reporting that she was crying during one of the shows: "We don't need a pity party, there's nothing wrong." Then she talked about wanting to shop for Louis Vuitton handkerchiefs, which sort of kills my relatability argument. [Laughs.]

AP: I think that was also to clap back at media who may have been hinting that she's in an emotional state post-James Packer -- the Louis V. handkerchief request was the best.

NW: Back to the music, her "O Holy Night" performance was also a jaw-dropping one -- she brought the traditional holiday heat. The Northern Lights backdrop was on point.

AP: Yes, very stellar -- pun intended.

NW: I can't top that.

NW: I don't get how people can play like Mariah doesn't still have it, though -- even at, maybe, 15% less powerful than she was at her peak, she's still about 9 million times better than the competition. What was your favorite part?

AP: I know this isn't holiday-related, but that three-song medley of "Emotions," "We Belong Together" and "Hero" was truly a gift. I can't remember the last time I saw her perform "Emotions" and "Hero."

NW: It was perfect -- I definitely hadn't seen those songs. She was in her element: the energy was right, she was in her sparkles...

AP: Yup! And she was really singing. No lip sync stuff.

NW: From when I've seen her, every time she comes onstage she performs like she still has something to prove, you know? She puts the work in.

AP: Yes, agreed -- she still puts on a show.

NW: People talk, but it's an incredible amount of work just to maintain your voice the way she has. It was just so perfectly balanced as far as being a little churchy, but not too churchy, a little cheesy, but not too cheesy -- just fun and good and entertaining. Also, I think it's important to note that the cast was almost entirely people of color -- a good moment of Mariah walking the walk.

AP: Oh yes -- definitely a show that pleases parents with their kids, couples, Mariah stans, holiday junkies, etc.

NW: Anyway, Mariah was probably the best gift I'm gonna get this Christmas. Any last thoughts?

AP: Same. I love her even more now. [Laughs.]  Other than that... I'm glad she still works with the same backup vocalists, Trey Lorenz and Mary Ann Tatum. She's kept her core team with her for decades, it seems like -- even Bryan Tanaka danced with her back in the day. Also, I'm glad she wasn't a statue, and strutted across the stage in her tight, glamorous 'fits. When can we go again?

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